Japan's Softbank has partnered with Smart Africa Alliance to help improve internet connectivity in Africa by using non-terrestrial connectivity. Smart Africa Alliance is a group of 32 African countries, international organisations and global private sector players tasked with implementing Africa's digital agenda.
The group's goal is to speed up Africa's development via Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) and better access to broadband services. Smart Africa aims to achieve a 51% internet penetration rate by 2025 and is on course to implement the Bulk Capacity Purchase project.
The project has gotten the backings of five African countries - Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, and Rwanda. The investment will help Smart Africa integrate several existing approaches to satellite and high-altitude communications to expand broadband access, and this is where Softbank comes in.
Softbank partnership with Alliance Africa will see Softbank deploy its non-terrestrial network (NTN) solutions to reduce internet costs and build affordable internet infrastructure, mainly in the remotest regions in Africa. SoftBank will use the connectivity services of several companies that provide NTN solutions in its project in Africa.
Although the initiative sounds interesting, there is a loophole in the agreement as nothing was said about the project's funding. Recently, a similar initiative - Loon could not sail owing to the inability to find a financially viable business model. Loon is a project which sought to deepen broadband connectivity in Africa's remote regions using internet-beaming balloons, starting in Kenya.
Africa in focus
GDP: $1.686 trillion in 2020 compared to $1.77 trillion in 2019
Population: 1.136 billion in 2020 compared to 1.107 billion in 2019
GDP per capita: $1,483 in 2020 compared to $1,599 in 2019